The day to day business of running a small child’s life is no picnic, which is ironic seeing as trying to get them to eat the right things is truly stressful. Just ask the mother whose son will only eat ham and cheese sandwiches. Or the mother who proudly boasted their 7 month old was happily eating green curry, smoked salmon and olives, only to have to confess two years later that their precocious poppet was now living on a diet of sausages and chips.
There are a bewildering number of people with ‘helpful’ advice, professionals, family, friends and even well meaning passers-by
(“yes…I KNOW I shouldn’t give coca cola to a 2 year old…but she hasn’t drunk ANYTHING in days…and its 40C…and she’s been screaming for two hours…and it made her stop…and I’ve been awake since 4am…and I’ve never done it before…but why am I justifying myself anyway…and I just caught my fingers if the damn buggies seatbelt…and she’s been screaming for four hours…and oh look, I can still make a fist with my afflicted hand…)
There’s the Annabel Carmel camp. Wean your children at four months. Don’t give them solid food, buy my books, buy my equipment, buy my philosophy, buy my ready made meals.
Then there’s the baby-led weaning camp, the right-on brigade, who watch, sympathetically as their hapless peers waft bought purees at their non the wiser child after their 50th aborted attempt at making puree.
Me? I wanted to be baby-led but lacked courage, couldn’t make unburnt puree and ended up Distraught-Camp. In the end I became so stressed and confused by all the options and what was best that I threw everything out of the window and onto the moulding pile of discarded Gina Ford books and decided that I had to go with my instincts. So I decided to sign up for Nigella Lawson’s philosophy, add wine, they love anything cooked with wine, made me better about my failures anyway (Nigella Lawson, How to Eat).
Eventually I found that a mixture of the two suited our little girl and me best. She has always eaten tonnes when she was hungry and then gone for days hardly eating a thing. It took me a while to accept that she was healthy, putting on weight, happy and that this was her way. She eats what we eat, and she eats her own food. She is still addicted to Ella’s Mango Brekkie and has a penchant for Stilton and pork pies. She won’t eat any veggies other than brocolli (go figure!), she will only eat berries from M&S or Waitrose. She loves chocolate and undiluted apple juice and would live off Bolognese if she could.
Having a child has made me a lot less judgemental, don’t get me wrong, when I see five year olds lighting cigarettes for their parents my brain still contracts painfully, but look, there may be a perfecting reasonable explanation for it…hmmm, no, maybe not.